Thursday, April 21, 2005

My Encounter With A Cadaver

I saw the cadaver today!

It started off as an exciting day, not because we had a exam-tips-giving session this morning, but because we were going to see the cadaver! At 3 pm today, about 90 of us were divided into 4 groups and brought into the dissection room after being briefed about the dissecting procedures. While everyone was queueing up for their turns, we were still laughing and bantering with each other frivolously, as usual, you know. In our mind still lingered the footage of patient with hernia that we watched yesterday, and I could tell that everyone wasn't as relaxed as they seemed. Including me, I guess.

We eventually entered the spacious dissection room, and in there arranged neatly about 30 covered cadavers. Every single person (living one that is) turned totally serious, and I guess at that moment my face was at its straightest since I was born. You just don't feel like telling any joke or tickling your friends when you are in there. I think everyone was trying to muster their courage to face the moment of truth.

The tutors of my group were young and bright, and they were both surgical students who certainly had no fears or whatsoever with seeing a cadaver. They greeted us warmly, and for the next 30 minutes we were briefed about the overview of human anatomy. Meanwhile, they told us the basic respect we should uphold towards the cadaver, as they were once alive and they agreed to be used as a cadaver for our learning purpose. "They gave you their biggest gift - their own bodies," we were told. They reassured us that we could choose to leave whenever we felt uncomfortable, and deep inside I said, "Huhh, I am not going to be afraid of facing the body." My sister told us they don't look anything like a living person, with their skin seriously discoloured by the preservative and reeking smell of formaldehyde.

"Won't feel geli one larr," this is what she told me...

Then the tutor revealed the body. My sister was both right and wrong. The appearance suited her description (although it actually looked worse), but...

To be frank, I felt a bit unnerving at first. To come face to face with someone who has died, discoloured, stiffened and cut up is not something you would enjoy doing at all. (You would certainly prefer to see a dead chicken than this) I found my heart beating harder than usual. But I tried. I know I was going to overcome the feeling anyhow. Moments later I managed to reconciled with the fear that invaded my thought.

It was an unforgettable experience to see the tutors cutting up layers of fat, skin, muscles, vessels, nerves and so on. After looking at pictures of organs and body cavities for two weeks, I still find it entirely different when I was confronted by the real thing. From that moment on I really appreciated what we were told about socialising into the medical culture and doing things that others won't be doing for their whole lives...

Summing up today's experience, I should say that seeing an embalmed cadaver is entirely different from any other thing, even from seeing a fresh dead body. I have seen dead bodies before because all my grandparents passed away when I was in my teens, and I have already overcome the grappling fear of seeing an inanimated body. But touching it and seeing livers, lungs and muscles just felt so different.


p/s: My friend, Jing Yi who were also in the dissection room had a reflection on seeing the dead body. She used it as her MSN nickname. I couldn't agree more with what she said:

我看到了生命的对立体--冰冷的躯壳,风化的灵魂与泛黄的回忆。褶皱的肌肤是岁月的痕迹还是病痛的哀嚎,抑或是无奈的畏惧...纵然曾经辉煌,仍无法抵抗自然的轮回。于是每当感觉到我们的呼吸时,更要珍惜自己仍拥有的一切~

English Translation:
I have seen saw the opposite of life - the frozen cadaver, weathered soul and memories that has turned sepia. Is the wrinkled skin a metaphore of the passing time or the wailing of sickness, or is it the sheer fear that we shall never overcome... Despite of life's resplendence, nobody could ever defy the cycle of the nature. Therefore whenever we feel our own breath, we should treasure all our belonging ever more~

6 comments:

day-dreamer said...

hey, doctor! glad u went through it without any major problems. well done!

Winson Kang said...

wow man...so cool indeed!u know...got to see the dead bodies..yeah....i know it is very scarry....but when u think it the the other way...i mean the positive way, how many chance in ur life ( in tis case, MY life ) get to see the dead bodies and analyse it?I wish u can take a photo on it and post it on the flickr or email me....hehe...

Ren Jie said...

Yea, i couldn't agree more with what your friend has said...Wow, her mandarin is great, and your translation is great too! *salute* :D

xaph said...

God, that is scary ^_^

Anonymous said...

yea,,,,i agree with ren jie....ur translation is very good.....:p

Anonymous said...

StanleyYP